DIY Rustic Wood Frame – Making Pictures Into Memories

Taking pictures is one of my favorite things to do, and when I’m taking pictures of my kids, I am a happy person. I am always on the look out for ways to incorporate pictures of my family in our home. This DIY rustic wood frame is one of the most recent ways I did this. Using snapshots taken over the past few years, I created one-of-a-kind works of art with the help of a DIY wood frame.

Large rustic wood frame DIY

Materials Need to Make a Rustic Picture Frame

  • Large prints of the pictures
  • Plywood
  • 1.5″ boards
  • Hanging hardware
Select favorite family pictures

Step One: Print the Pictures for Your Rustic Picture Frame

I selected four of my favorite pictures of my kids. Because these are going to be large, I chose candid, unposed shots that span all of the years of their lives. Picture selection is key when you want to make your pictures works of art.

Choosing shots of their backs and feet instead of standard poses makes them feel like true images of  childhood. I digitally edited the photos and made them sepia colored, giving a touch of timelessness to the whole set. I sent them off to be printed as 16×20’s to really up the “art” factor.

Square plywood pieces

Step Two: Cut the Plywood

Because I made the pictures so large, it is cheaper and easier for me to make the frames myself than to buy new ones. This way, I will get exactly the look I want. I purchased 4 square plywood pieces and cut them down to a size  slightly bigger than my pictures.

Long board DIY

Step Three: Prep the Boards for the Rustic Picture Frame

For the frame, I want a chunky look and I plan to finish it with a dark walnut stain, really giving it a rustic but modern feel. These boards are 1.5 inches thick, the perfect amount of bulk. The way I will build the frame will make it thicker, giving it a g higher profile.

Cutting Back the wood

There are several different ways to create these frames. I chose to make the outer frames with a groove in the center so the frame’s backing will wedge into the four sides. To do this, I measured the width of the frame edges, then turned down my table saw so it would not cut all the way through the wood.

Cutting grooves in wood frame

The grooves of the frame are made by running the picture frame through the table saw, allowing the cut to go only halfway into the wood. 

Setting the board backing

When I set the board backing into the frame, you can see in the above picture that the back is flush with the frame.

Making flush corner with wood

Sliding the frame pieces together.

Making grooved edge with wood

This method allows for a flush corner on the frame itself, uses a minimal number of nails and makes the frame as secure as possible. It does not have to be built this way, and cutting the picture frame pieces to size and simply nailing them is also an option.

Making picture frame

Step Four: Double Check Picture Size

Before I cut the longer boards to size, I want to make sure that it all fits together properly.

Measuring frame with picture

I confirm that the picture size does not need to be adjusted and that the back board does not need to be cut further. Once I’m certain that it fits properly,  I can cut the longer boards down to size.

Nailing wood frame

Step Five: Assemble the Rustic Picture Frame

Once all the sides are cut, it is time to nail everything into place.

No stain picture frames

Step Six: Stain the Picture Frames

Leaving these wood picture frames as is would be a great modern look since light wood is very popular for home accents right now. My personal preference, however, is a warmer color that I will achieve by using a dark wood stain.

Wood stain the frames

Wipe the wood stain onto the wood, spreading it evenly and wiping down any drips. I like to see the grain of the wood, so I only do one coat of wood stain. To make a bigger impact and have less of the original wood showing through, you can apply a second coat after the first one dries.  This is all up to your personal preference. You will know the stain is dry when it is no longer sticky and doesn’t  have a wet consistency.

Stained wood frames

I did not have to stain the entire backing of the frame because most of it will be covered by the image, however I wanted to be sure that any exposed portions will be the same color as the sides.

Adding double sided tape to pictures

Step Seven: Attach Photos

The plan for these pictures frames is to be timeless enough to last. I do not plan on updating them as often as other pictures in my home. That being said, I may eventually choose to replace the pictures. To make this possible without having to build a whole new picture frame, I am using double sided tape to attach the picture to the frame. Peel off one side and stick it in a line on the top and bottom of the frame.

Attaching picture to frame

Peel off the top portion of the tape and gently set the picture over the tape, once you know you have it centered correctly push it down and smooth along the picture. Confirming it is all attached right.

Hardware connect backing to frame

Step Eight: Attach Hanging Hardware

To hang these pictures, you can purchase picture hanger hardware at most stores. Screw it into place in the center of the back of the picture.

DIY rustic wood frame

This DIY rustic wood frame is done! I have a piece of simple, no frills but statement-making wall art for my home!

Seating area with four rustic frames above

I set it in my home that has lots of bright colors to allow this set of 4 pictures really be the star of the show.

DIY wood family pictures
Stained wood picture frames

When planning to have large pictures like this in your home, be mindful of the images you choose. That is what will make this feel timeless. I chose images from different years in my kid’s lives so that there is variety and all with a different focus and pose from them.

Closer look to stained picture frame

Because the frame sits around the image and the picture is not being set inside the frame itself, it can easily be replaced.

Kids picture frames with a rustic feel

A chunky picture frame that’s not too overly obvious means I can change out the pictures for bright and colorful pints or a complete black and white look. The frame’s simplicity let’s the photos be the true focal point.

Details wood frame
Side view of the frames

As you can see, they sit off of the wall just enough to be a decor feature in the home without being cumbersome or something people will bump into.

Build rustic frames for family picturs
Beautiful wood picture frames

I like these frames because they have a very understated feel. You can dress up your home with other fun or loud accessories. Choosing simple staples like art work or furniture allows you to add or delete other accessories around those staples. Changing things up in your home is fun and choosing decor wisely will allow for easy transitions. These DIY rustic picture frames were so simple to make and by making them myself allows me to customize the size and look of the pictures, all for less than if I had purchased the big frames from a store.